The Living Reed

After reading some of the reviews at, I was hesitate to post this one. But I still think about this book after reading it more than a year ago, so mixed reviews not withstanding, I would recommend this book.

The Living Reed by Pearl S. Buck is a historical novel set in Korea. The book follows one yangban (aristocratic) family from the end of the 19th century through the end of  World War II. As the reader follows four generations of the family, you see Korea go from an independent nation to being occupied by Japan and finally liberated at the end of the war. You see the loss Korean families suffered, and the change in attitude with each generation.

The book is long (480 pages), and it did take me a few of chapters to into. But once I was into it, I was hooked.

The controversy surrounding this book (found in the reviews on relates to the historical accuracy of the novel. If I remember correctly, the author claims in the book (in a note at the end, I believe) that book is accurate. Even the description on says, “All major public events and characters are authentic.” But some of the reviewers claim otherwise. If you’re interested in seeing the debate, you can read the reviews for yourself.

So I’m recommending this book with the advice that it’s probably best to think of book for what it is–a work of FICTION, not necessarily historically accurate. But still an enjoyable read.


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